Notes from the Time Travel District: Funny thing that last night's reading of selected peices from Slake literary journal was at Stories bookshop/cafe, which is adjacent to the Time Travel Mart on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. Funny because the reading at Stories was dedicated to Time Travel as well. (It's spreading!) One reader, Hank Cherry, delivered a beat-inspired performance while reading from an essay called "The Resurrection of Henry Grimes," asking the audience to snap their fingers instead of clap. And two out of five readers read reminiscences of the '80s music scene (and earlier) in Los Angeles. It's evocative material, the Tropicana Motel on Santa Monica Boulevard, Ron Athey, Bob Seeger, L7, Jac Zinder, Thelonius Monster. It was a scene whose members found a lot of employment at the L.A. Weekly in the paper's legendary, debauched early days and continuing to the present (the Weekly having employed so many of the writers in the inaugural issue of Slake, as well as its editors, Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly). If the atmosphere last night seemed clubby, Chicken Corner had to remind herself it wasn't Slake's job not to be that way. It's the writing that counts.
A couple of mini snapshots -- in words, because I was loath to get up close with an iPhone camera. Polly Geller reading poetry: she wore pretty ballet flats, and at her feet was a tall Colt 45 beer can. She got a bit flustered before she began reading and said something oddly lovely, "It's weird to be in your own neighborhood and reading poems."
John Albert, who read selections from an essay titled "The Hep C Generation," had brought his ailing, elderly dog, whom he carried over one arm like a doll. He explained she was sick -- and presumably he hadn't wanted to leave her at home. He also told the audience that he had had front-row seats to the Dodgers; he did not say he'd rather be here reading a personally difficult piece involving drug abuse as a teenager. When it was his turn to read, he went to the mic with his dog under his arm. Editor/publisher Joe Donnelly went up and offered to hold the dog. Donnelly cradled the dog for the rest of Albert's reading.
One of my favorite artworks in Slake is a black-and-white photograph by Dan Peterka that shows a ground-level view of a turtle, a red-eared slider, at a full run -- they can go fast, those sliders. Forget the myth of the slow turtle. Behind the creature is an overturned bicycle. Lovely. I am assuming the turtle was heading for Echo Park Lake, to join the 500 or 1000 of his/her compatriots who live there.